Strong Wall Street open boosts European markets

MILAN - (AP) - A strong Wall Street opening boosted European markets Wednesday after they had been bruised by mounting evidence of a slowdown in Europe's economy and disappointment over thelatest batch of measures to resolve Europe's spiraling debt crisis.Strong U.S. corporate earnings helped investors forget theirmisgivings about Europe's ability to contain its debt problems.Target Corp., Staples Inc. and Dell Inc. all reported earnings forlast quarter that were above analysts' forecasts.The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.27 percent to 11,437points. The S&P 500 was 0.35 percent, higher at 1,196.The U.S. rally helped European stocks recover some ground lostdue earlier in the trading day.In Europe, Germany's DAX closed down 0.77 percent lower at 5,948while the CAC-40 in France rose a slight 0.73 percent to 3,254.Britain's FTSE 100 of leading British shares was trading down 0.49percent at 5,331.

Markets, however, remained skeptical that a fix too the crisiswas imminent following a Franco-German summit that failed to exciteon the heels of weak growth in Germany, Europe's largest economy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor AngelaMerkel called for greater economic and political unity among the 17nations that share the euro. But they failed to come up withdecisive action that many investors had hoped for, includingcommitting to common eurobonds that would spread the risk for thesovereign debt or strengthening a new bailout fund.

Compared to last week, when turmoil gripped financial markets inthe aftermath of Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S.'s creditrating and as Europe's debt crisis threatened Italy and Spain,trading this week has been fairly subdued. Often, trading in thesecond half of August runs dry up until the U.S. return from theLabor Day weekend in early September.In the currency markets, the most activity centered on the Swissfranc.

The Swiss franc was back in demand after the Swiss National Bankfailed to peg the currency with the euro, as had been widelyspeculated upon in recent days. Instead, the bank decided to injectmore of the Swiss currency into the money markets in its latestattempt to stem the export-sapping appreciation of the currency.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.4 percent to 20,289.03,buoyed by Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang's pledge to expand therole of Hong Kong as an offshore trading center for China's yuancurrency.Oil prices rose further with the benchmark New York rate up$1.04 at $87.69 a barrel.

U.S. stocks fall on European economic, debt worries

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